Nietzsche on Taste: Epistemic Privilege and Anti-Realism

Jonathan Mitchell

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The central aim of this article is to argue that Nietzsche takes his own taste, and those in the relevant sense similar to it, to enjoy a kind of epistemic privilege over their rivals. Section 2 will examine the textual evidence for an anti-realist reading of Nietzsche on taste. Section 3 will then provide an account of taste as an ‘affective evaluative sensibility’ (AES), asking whether taste so understood supports an anti-realist reading. I will argue that it does not and that we should resist construing the affects (Affeke), which constitute taste for Nietzsche, as no more than Humean subjective preferences. Section 4 will then consider passages in which Nietzsche makes a connection between taste and epistemic considerations, suggesting that he appears to situate the epistemic privilege of his taste in a more fundamental method of evaluative disclosure, namely pre-reflective affective responses. Finally, Section 5 will argue that we can make sense of how such affective responses could provide us with evaluative knowledge by narrowing the scope of the objects of Nietzsche’s taste to other affective-evaluative states, such that the affective responses are meta-affective evaluations. On the basis of this idea, I construct a theory of meta-affective responses providing their subjects with access to the intrinsic phenomenal value of other affective-evaluative states, and then go on to show how Nietzsche can be read as applying this theory in a number of passages.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date2 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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